Federalism vs Anti-Federalism – and you

What has been the driving force behind America’s rapidly accelerating swing toward a Federalist form of government – a big all-powerful federal government that tends to ignore the 10th Amendment?

Alexander Hamilton - Federalist

Federalists support a powerful centralized government that limits or restricts states rights. Federalists were the first step in the creation of the Democratic Party.

Thomas Jefferson - Anti-Federalist

Anti-Federalists believe in a limited federal government with more power given to the states.

The tension between Federalists and Anti-Federalists is certainly not a recent phenomenon.

Throughout America’s history the division of power between the federal government and state governments has been the subject of many political and legal battles with the pendulum of government swinging from Federalists to Anti-Federalist since 1776.

A powerful centralized government that exercises control over state governments has been the pursuit of ‘progressives’ since the founding of our nation.   Is it possible to be a Federalist and not be a progressive liberal? Possibly- but have you ever known a progressive liberal who is not a Federalist.

Thomas Jefferson said “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

In 1801 John Marshall, a Federalist, was appointed Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Marshall’s appointment was the beginning of court decisions favoring a strong federal government over state government power.  In true Federalist fashion, Marshall ruled that the ‘Necessary and Proper Clause’ gave Congress power to make any laws considered necessary to carry out its duties in providing for the nation’s welfare.  The Marshall court basically said the ‘Necessary and Proper Clause’ gave the Federal Government “implied powers”, powers not actually written down in the Constitution but needed for the government to function.

Many believe the heavily Federalist Marshall court, with its highly subjective “implied powers” ruling, set the stage for the attack on the U. S. Constitution that continues today.  Since the Marshall court’s implied powers ruling, secular progressives have maintained that the Constitution is a ‘living document’ that must continually adapt to our evolving culture.

Question: If we take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, which Constitution are we taking an oath to defend, the Constitution that is never changing, or the Constitution that is ever changing.  And if the Constitution is continually adapting to our evolving culture, will we be defending the same Constitution tomorrow that we took an oath to defend today?

See Selling the Constitution on www.enotes.com.  I believe it will give you a better understanding of the struggle between Federalists and Anti-Federalists.

It is interesting to note our political tug-of-war.  Shown below are America’s Presidents, party affiliations and periods of service during the last 100 years:

William Howard Taft (R) 1909-1913

Woodrow Wilson (D) 1913-1921

Warren G. Harding (R) 1921-1923

Calvin Coolidge (R) 1923-1929

Herbert Hoover (R) 1929-1933

Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) 1933-1945

Harry S Truman (D) 1945-1953

Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) 1953-1961

John F. Kennedy (D) 1961-1963

Lyndon B. Johnson (D) 1963-1969

Richard Nixon (R) 1969-1974

Gerald Ford (R) 1974-1977

Jimmy Carter (D) 1977-1981

Ronald Reagan (R) 1981-1989

George Bush (R) 1989-1993

Bill Clinton (D) 1993-2001

George W. Bush (R) 2001-2009

Barack Obama (D) 2009-present

Republicans are generally considered to be conservative and supportive of an Anti-Federalist form of government.  For the last 100 years however, Republicans have actually been in power considerably longer than Democrats.  So which major political party should claim credit (or blame) for our out of control big spending Federalist government?

Many believe the judicial branch of government deserves a preponderance of the blame for the attack on the Constitution and the erosion of our 10th Amendment rights.  The ‘life-time’ appointment of a justice to the Supreme Court impacts the critical balance between Federalists and Anti-Federalists for many years.

How does this never ending struggle impact our daily lives in the 21st century? And what can we do to influence the discussion?

We deserve the government we elect.  Republican and Democrat administrations are responsible for selection of our Supreme Court justices.  Presidents making those selections were elected by you and me.  It is not likely that we will ever be in a position to influence the selection of a Supreme Court justice, but we can help eliminate unfit candidates for judge at the county level.

Will America continue down the path from self-sufficiency to state-dependency?

I think not.  I certainly hope not! I believe America experienced a monumental course correction with the 2010 mid-term election!  Those of us who look for good in all circumstances see a resurgence of rugged individualism with private citizens saying “enough of this nonsense, I am Taxed Enough Already” – thus the birth of the Tea Party movement!

Jefferson said “Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.”

The political pendulum is again swinging toward the Constitution.  Unfortunately, the perpetual struggle between Federalism and Anti-Federalism will continue.  Our forefathers gave us a precious gift – the United States Constitution.  It is up to you and me to protect America from Federalism and from those whose hidden agenda is the establishment of a socialist nanny state.

More on Federalism and State Powers

The Federalist Papers

by Lenny Leatherman


2 responses

  1. There is so much about our real history that I don’t know. I never realized that the attack on the Constitution started even before it was ratified, and continues today.

  2. I have been working on a project to disseminate my thesis on the Anti-Federalists. You can see one of my videos here:

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